Ruben Studdard’s new album and tour honor R&B legend Luther Vandross

Ruben Studdard’s new album and tour honor R&B legend Luther Vandross
Ruben Studdard's latest project is a tribute to one of his musical idols. (Chad Allen/Alabama NewsCenter)

It took a show from Hollywood to make Alabama appreciate one of its own.

But since Ruben Studdard won “American Idol” in 2003, Birmingham and Alabama have embraced the soulful singer nicknamed “the Velvet Teddy Bear.”

Studdard said that affection is appreciated and returned.

“I’m so grateful that I get an opportunity to be an ambassador for the new Alabama, the more progressive Alabama,” said Studdard, who has traveled the world touring for the past seven years. “I think the future looks good for the state of Alabama.”

Ruben Studdard talks about his roles as music interpreter and Alabama ambassador from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

With his latest project, Studdard honors R&B legend Luther Vandross, to whom Studdard has often been compared.

“This year I’m releasing my new album called ‘Ruben sings Luther,’” Studdard said. “We’re doing a subsequent tour. We kind of envision this show as an opportunity for Luther’s fans and for people who never got an opportunity to see his show to see something like a Luther show – because it’s not going to be exactly like Luther Vandross’ show. I’m not Luther Vandross. It’s impossible for me to do anything exactly like him, but it’s going to be as close as I can possibly do.”

It’s the latest evolution in Studdard’s career that began with the “American Idol” win.

“I absolutely have the same passion for music that I did when I won ‘American Idol,’” he said.

He said that passion has gone from wanting to be heard to now wanting to produce excellent art.

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